Updated: Dec 7, 2022
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There are two categories of cannabinoids: Phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids. Phytocannabinoids are those produced by cannabis/marijuana/hemp, while endocannabinoids are made by the human body. This series covers both.
CBCA molecular structure
What is CBCA?
Cannabichromenic acid (CBCA) is a minor cannabinoid and was first isolated in 1968 by Japanese researchers, two years following the discovery by Israeli researchers of the cannabinoid that it produces when decarboxylated, cannabichromene (CBC).
CBCA and is an acidic precursor cannabinoid that is produced by cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), another acidic precursor and a special molecule that has been dubbed the "mother of all cannabinoids." This is due to the fact that CBGA synthesizes not only cannabigerol (CBG), but also the important acidic precursors CBDA and THCA.
"Mature plants typically feature only a fraction of one percent of CBCA in dry weight by volume."
CBC is considered one of the four major cannabinoids produced by hemp and cannabis, along with cannabidiol (CBD), CBG, and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The volumes of CBCA peak early in the growth of a cannabis plant due to the position of this cannabinoid in the overall biosynthetic pathway of this botanical species. In fact, mature plants typically feature only a fraction of one percent of CBCA in dry weight by volume (typically 0.2-0.3 percent in most cultivars) because most of the CBCA was converted to CBC during the growth cycle of the plant.
CBCA Fast Facts
Role: Results from CBGA
Biosynthetic pathway: CBGA > CBCA > CBC > CBL
Acidic precursor: CBGA
Boiling point: 284° F
Medical benefits: Antibacterial, anticonvulsant
CBCA biosynthetic pathway
CBCA Medicinal Benefits
CBCA is one of the least researched cannabinoids. Thus, the volume of study data available for popular major cannabinoids such as CBD and THC far exceeds what has been produced for CBCA. The scant research that is available indicates that CBCA may be an effective therapeutic agent for the treatment of bacterial infections.
An August 2020 study entitled "Rapid Antibacterial Activity of Cannabichromenic Acid against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus" that was published in the journal Antibiotics explored "a group of previously inaccessible phytocannabinoids and synthetic analogues were examined for potential antibacterial activity."
"CBCA was better capable of fighting the bacterial infection that the most popular conventional treatments, even when the infection had reached a large scale."
The research revealed that "CBCA elicited a...reduction in the bacterial load, indicating rapid bactericidal activity that is independent of cell density." This indicated that CBCA was better capable of fighting the bacterial infection that the most popular conventional treatments, even when the infection had reached a large scale.
The scientists concluded that they had "identified a previously inaccessible phytocannabinoid compound, CBCA, to be effective against the increasingly prevalent and virulent bacterial pathogen MRSA." They reported that CBCA was "as efficacious as the current standard of care, the 'last resort' antibiotic vancomycin, at inhibiting the growth of MRSA."
The study revealed that CBCA was able to rapidly degrade the lipid membrane of the bacteria, something the report's authors stated will "enhance the clinical utility of this compound." However, the researchers noted that additional studies are necessary to "elucidate this compound's mechanism of action [and] pharmacodynamic properties."
"In an age of a waning antibiotic armamentarium, the discovery of a unique compound with anti-MRSA activity undoubtedly serves as an encouraging and universally welcomed finding," concluded the study's authors.
CBC and CBCA feature "emerging therapeutic potential" and CBCA may offer value as both an antibacterial agent and as an anticonvulsant in the treatment of epilepsy.
A May 2022 study entitled "In Vitro Evaluation of the Interaction of the Cannabis Constituents Cannabichromene and Cannabichromenic Acid with ABCG2 and ABCB1 Transporters" that was published in the European Journal of Pharmacology explored the biochemical mechanisms surrounding the cannabinoids CBC and CBCA.
"After Δ9-THC and CBD, cannabichromene is the third most abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis plant," reported the study, indicating the important role of CBCA in producing CBC. It stated that both CBC and CBCA feature "emerging therapeutic potential" and that CBCA may offer value as both an antibacterial agent (see the 2020 study cited above) and also as an anticonvulsant in the treatment of childhood epilepsy.
The study also noted that the child molecule to CBCA, CBC, has demonstrated "anti-inflammatory properties...and anti-cancer properties," as well as potential antidepressant properties. The researchers concluded that their data indicate that CBCA features "anticonvulsant and antibacterial properties."
How to get CBCA
Due to the relatively small volumes in which CBCA is available in cannabis plants, the only practical manner in which to produce usable quantities for commercial applications is via extraction and concentration (a technique applied to many other cannabinoids, including CBD and THC). However, this minor cannabinoid has not generated enough commercial to produce widespread availability.
"Those who smoke or vaporize loose-leaf cannabis consume basically zero CBCA because heat converts this molecule from its acidic precursor form to CBC."
Those who smoke or vaporize loose-leaf cannabis consume basically zero CBCA because heat converts this molecule from its acidic precursor form to CBC. Thus, CBCA may be available via tinctures, oils, and edibles, but not in products intended for smoking or vaping.
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